Jaguars 32, Giants 31

Throughout the first two weeks of training camp, Jacksonville

Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert continued to harp on the

importance of being more consistent than he was during his rookie

season a year ago.

After the Jaguars first preseason game Friday night, Gabbert is

still preaching the same message. The Jaguars’ second-year QB gave

himself mixed reviews following the Jaguars’ 32-31 win over the

Giants in the preseason opener for both teams.

He was only in for three series, albeit the second one ended on

one play when the Jaguars (No. 31 in the AP Pro32) fumbled the ball

away on a Cecil Shorts’ end-around run. Gabbert’s first and third

series had contrasting results.

The 10th overall pick of the 2011 draft looked like Pro Bowl

material in the team’s opening drive, directing an 89-yard march in

13 plays. He connected on 4 of 7 passes for 51 yards with his first

three completions coming on third down plays that earned a first

down. The fourth completion resulted in a touchdown.

”That’s the way you want to start football games,” he said.

Not everything was perfect, but the biggest thing that matters is

getting a touchdown.”

His last series wasn’t as successful. Gabbert completed just one

of three passes for 11 yards and the drive was halted when he was

sacked, causing the ball to pop free with the Giants (No. 3)

recovering.

”I should have got out and ran. You really can’t afford to

fumble the ball on back-to-back series because those fumbles led to

points,” he said.

Gabbert can take some solace in knowing he outplayed his

counterpart, Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Gabbert passed for 62

yards, 1 TD and had a passer rating of 102.9. Manning had 60 yards

passing, no TD passes and a rating of 75.0

”I was extremely proud of Blaine tonight,” said Jaguars coach

Mike Mularkey, who was awarded the game ball by the team after his

coaching debut in Jacksonville. ”No more pressure on him than

anybody in the stadium when he walked into that huddle. And to take

a team 90 yards and the things he did on third down. To do it all

right and not do anything self-inflicted and move the ball down

there against that defense, I was very proud of him.”

After Manning’s two series, backup quarterback David Carr took

over and led the Giants to a pair of scores following

Jacksonville’s two fumbles. He connected with tight end Martellus

Bennett from 12 yards out, and late in the half teamed with wide

receiver Isaiah Stanback for a 5-yard TD completion.

”This is a system that I’m comfortable with and that helps

especially since we have a lot of young guys that are learning,”

Carr said. ”For me to go out and do some good things, that way, I

can take more of a leadership role. You tend to play better when

you’ve got a lot of young guys around you.”

There were plenty of young players on the field in the fourth

quarter when the game was decided. Both teams special teams gifted

the opponent by fumbling away punts inside the 15-yard line. New

York recovered a muffed catch by Mike Brown at the 12 and after a

penalty scored on a 6-yard pass from Ryan Perrilloux to Rueben

Randle.

But the Giants returned the favor, coughing up a punt at the

9-yard line which the Jaguars turned into a field goal with 7:19 to

play. At the end of the first half, the Giants muffed a punt at

their own 2 and the Jaguars scored two plays later.

Third-string quarterback Jordan Palmer led the TD march with

running back Keith Toston taking it in from 9 yards out with 2

minutes left in the game.

The Jaguars then went for two with Palmer connecting with tight

end Matt Veldman for the winning points.

”The No. 1 thing is ball security as a punt returner,” said

Giants coach Tom Coughlin. ”The first thing you have to do is

catch the ball. We also have a lot of people who quite frankly

don’t know what they’re doing.”

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